Posts Tagged ‘Javed Anand’

Two Letters and a Story in Hell – By Amaresh Misra

October 16, 2008

 Two Letters and a Story in Hell  

 

                                                                                   By Amaresh Misra

 

          I want to tell everyone a didactic story.

         

          We all knew that torture in Indian jails is a reality; but it has taken two letters to prove why people like Javed Anand, who argued against having any sympathy for innocent Muslims arrested for belonging allegedly to a dreaded organization like SIMI—an organization against which a proper Court tribunal dismissed the Government of India’s plea for a ban—are either sadists, safedposh criminals or simply lackeys of the anti-Muslim, communal forces in India.

          What do these letters say about Yogendra Yadav and his stand? Only he can answer for despite issuing statements against the official version in the Batala House encounter—whatever the reason—he has chosen not to take a powerful enough stand against the ongoing Muslim Persecution in India. What also to say about people like Siddharth Vardarajan who make a big issue about being leftists and sensitive about secularism—appear on International platforms needlessly—but who do not take stand against torture?

          On 23rd November 2007 bomb blasts ripped the Civil Court premises of Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh (UP). UP as we all know, is a bastion of secularism as opposed to say, Gujarat. In fact there was no major riot in UP after the Babri Masjid demolition even though the act took place in a district of the State. There was no riot in Lucknow, Allahabad and Varanasi, major UP cities, even in 1947. People still swear by UP’s Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb. UP produced the maximum, joint Hindu-Muslim resistance against the British in 1857; it sacrificed millions of its Hindu and Muslim sons to safeguard India’s freedom, faith (Deen), identity, soul and culture. UP was the place which made the BJP lose in the 2004 elections as the party came down to 10 seats in the state, which sends the maximum 80 members to the Indian Parliament.   

          If Gujarat is the new face of a fascist, corporate, anti-democratic, pseudo-modern, murderous and anti-national `India’, UP is the face of a democratic, progressive, indigenously modern, traditional and patriotic India.

          Criminal/Intellectuals like Swapan Dasgupta hate UP and 1857 because it militates against their smelly, underdeveloped, toady `India Today’ type facile, vapid, yet aggressively anti-Muslim, anti-people `modernity’.  

          It is on the point of torture inflicted especially on Muslim youth that despite mutual disagreements, people like Javed Anand, Siddharth Vardarajan and Swapan Dasgupta ultimately share in a conspiracy of silence.

          Yes—back to the November 2007 bomb blasts in UP. As usual Muslim youths were picked up—Aftab Ansari, who was picked up from Kolkata in East India was declared the `master mind’. As is the usual case in today’s India, the `mastermind’ turned out to be an innocent man trapped in the communal machinations of Indian security forces. He was let off by the Court.  

          But there were two other boys who were also picked up by the Police—their names are Muhammad Hakim Tariq Qasmi and Muhammad Khalid Mujahid. Both these boys are still lodged in the Barabanki jail. But the Courts have dismissed the charge of sedition against them—as is bound to happen, they too will be let off as innocents caught wrongly by the Police as the latter do not seem to have any evidence against SIMI or their alleged adherents.

          But what happened to those boys while they are in Police custody, especially that of the Special Task Force (STF)? Both boys have written letters in Urdu to the Judge and the Jail Superintendent. I found these at a Hindi site calledMohalla, run by conscientious Indians, mostly young Hindus.

They are here before you in English, translated, quite badly I suppose by me:    

 

Letter Number 1  

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I, Muhammad Khalid, am a resident of mohalla Madeeyahoon, district Jaunpur, UP. On 16-12-07, the STF people picked me up in front of a large crowd from a shop in Madeeyahoon; I was taken to an unknown place. There they tortured me; they beat me up in different ways. The hairs of my beard were uprooted from various places. Both my legs were literally torn apart—STF people stood on my face and forced me to lick their penis. Petrol was poured on my anus; it became commonplace to tie one end of a string to my penis, and the other to a stone and leaving me in a standing position. Burning cigarettes buds were stubbed on my penis several times. Despite me being a Muslim I was made to drink alcohol, eat pork and drink urine again and again. Ice was put all over me; I was made forcefully to drink water through my nose because of which I used to almost lose my consciousness. I was burnt several times because of electric shocks and battery charges. All this happened so that I accept that I am guilty.

 

 

Letter Number 2

 

To,

The Jail Superintendent and the Chief Judicial Magistrate, from the district jail,

 

I urge that I, Muhammad Tariq, son of Riaz Ahmed Sakeen, hail fromSammupur Rani Ki Sarai, Azamgarh. I was picked up on 10th December (2007) in front of my medicine shop in Azamgarh by the STF and for 10 days I was tortured mercilessly and a video was made, which showed planted false stories regarding my person. On 22nd December, the STF people took me to Barabanki and showed my arrest with RDX and other explosives. This, when I was in their custody for 10 days—I  had never possessed RDX or any other explosives. From 24th December to 2nd January, the STF put me in their office on remand. The second remand phase started from January 9th when I was under the charge of the Faizabad CO. They tortured me day and night to force me to say things they wanted to me to say; on the night of 17th January 2008, Rajesh Pandey, the CO City of Faizabad, and OP Pandey, the STFdaroga, forced me to hold a red color battery (on which the word Shakti was prominent and there was something which was constantly sticking to my hands). Then I was a forced to hold bottles of Dabur Kevda. Then I was blindfolded and taken to another room.  I do not know what other things they forced me to hold as I was blindfolded. This much I understood that there were bags and boxes. I am afraid that they tried taking my fingerprints through various means. I beg of you these people want to frame me; I am a peace loving, patriotic citizen of India. I have never committed any crime—neither am I of this nature.

 

 

What do you now say—masters of culture and intellectuals of India—people like Sagarika Ghose and Rajdeep Sardesai? What is your specific response to this—are you ready to put these letters on your channel? What about that secular liberal named Vinod Mehta? Is he ready to print these in that magazine called `Outlook’?

 

I know some people might think that Amaresh Misra should tread cautiously and that he will make enemies—I do not care. The people I have named—with the exception of Yogendra Yadav—if they come face to face with me—to yeh log to gayo. All of them are shit scared of the UP temper and the fact that they by not exposing the truth, by deliberately suppressing the truth as in Vinod Mehta’s case, have obstructed justice as defined by India’s constitution, and they are guilty as hell.  

Well, I have a more hair-raising story to tell regarding another torture and it exposes several other lovers of secularism…  

                      

 

 

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Prof. Iqbal A. Ansari, noted Human Rights Activist, joins SIMI debate

September 12, 2008

 

Prof. Iqbal A. Ansari, noted Human Rights Activist, joins SIMI debate

 

 

Dear Yogendra Yadav/Ghulam Muhammed/Javed Anand/ Teesta Setalvad,

 

Having read with interest the exchange of emails, enclosed is my own opinion along with some papers. I hope the Citizens’ Declaration will receive your attention.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

 

 

Debating SIMI’s Rights and Wrongs

Law, Secularism & Human Rights

 

 

[The following are excerpts from email exchanges mainly between Amresh Misra and Yogendra Yadav over Javed Anand’s article “Suspect SIMI? Of Course” (Indian Express, ……….). Apart from the timing and the title of the article, Javed Anand’s presumption that by welcoming the lifting of the ban on SIMI, the Muslim community is expressing its ideological solidarity, which, in his view is nothing short of suicidal, gave rise to rather harsh response from Ghulam Muhammed, to which exception was taken by Yogendra Yadav….which led to Amresh Misra and Yogendra Yadav exchanging messages, which along with my own comments readers may find enlightening.

 

Also reproduced below is part of my critique of Justice Dhingra’s shockingly pro-establishment judgment in 2003, sentencing Yaseen Patel and Ashraf Jaffary, who were alleged to be members of banned SIMI, for pasting posters calling people to establish Khilafah, in place of Nationalism – Ed.]

 

SIMI & Hindutva Outfits

 

It must be stated that SIMI is a group of zealots inspired by a political Islam which is anti-liberal, anti-modern humanistic, which rejects every other culture and religion as anti-god and in that sense it is very dangerous for Muslims, for India and for humanity. Their ideology should be politically, socially and spiritually opposed and defeated, as all other anti-liberal, anti-humanist ideologies like that of the RSS-VHP-BJP- Bajrang Dal which are dangerous for the Hindus, India and mankind should be politically defeated. In case imposing a ban on their activities was considered extremely necessary by generally political consensus, the banning process should not treat Islamist formations as necessarily ‘anti-national’ and Hindutva formations as inherently ‘national’. However individuals associated with these organizations should not be treated as criminals and put behind bars and even otherwise persecuted.

 

Iqbal A. Ansari (From an article of 2003)

 

 

If the Accused Are Muslims, Police Testimony Alone Is Sufficient for Conviction: Justice Dhingra on SIMI Case

 

 

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

On 21 July, 2003 the Addl. Sessions Judge S.N. Dhingra, of the Designated POTA Court New Delhi held two young Muslims, Mohd Yaseen Patel and Mohd Ashraf Jaffary guilty under sections 20 of POTA and 124-A of the I.P.C and sentenced them to five and seven years imprisonment under the two sections for waging war against India and disturbing communal harmony. They were alleged to have been associated with the banned organization SIMI and were apprehended by the police while they were allegedly pasting posters on 27 May 2002 on the wall of Jamia Millia Islamia University Library, New Delhi at about 1:50 P.M., which read:

 

“Destroy Nationalism, Establish Khilafah”. According to the statement of Mrs. Farhana Jaffary, wife of Mohd. Yaseen Patel, the police had raided their house during the night of 26/27 May and arrested Mohd Yaseen Patel and her brother Mohd Ashraf Jaffary, who was staying with them in her house in Zakir Nagar. The allegation of pasting of posters on JMI Library wall was called a pure fabrication.

 

The police did not produce any independent witness under the plea that people did not want to be involved in criminal cases to avoid harassment. But what prevented the police to even inform the University Proctor, and the Librarian? The Vice-Chancellor’s office is just across the road from the library. Members of the public may not easily volunteer as witness as claimed by the police, but it constitutes part of University officials duty, especially of Proctor’s staff to keep a watch over whatever is happening, especially in a criminal case by outsiders. Instead of questioning the police officials, who were the only witness in the case, about this serious failure, Justice Dhingra accepted every word of the police statement and allegations as gospel truth under the plea that “there is no reason why the investigation officer should have falsely implicated the accused person or the police persons should have deposed against the accused persons unless they were not actually caught indulging in the act of pasting antinational posters on the wall”.

 

In another judgment delivered by the same learned judge S.N. Dhingra on 27 August 1996, in case No. 34/95 State Vs. Shyam Vir and others arising out of riots in Tirlokpuri, Delhi in 1984, he had observed that the police and the entire criminal justice system was subservient to the political masters.

 

Bemoaning that in the 50th year of independence no serious effort had been made to reform the police the learned judge described the true character of the crime investigating agencies in India as “gifts of colonial era of British Empire. They are aimed to sub serve their political masters faithfully”.

 

How come that Justice Dhingra holds a diametrically opposite view now about the role of the police in this case, as independent, conscientious and dutiful servants of society dedicated to upholding rule of law? What inference, can be drawn about the role of the Courts according to his lordships own observations?

 

I would like to remind Justice S.N. Dhingra of his own telling remarks made in the judgment of 1996 referred to above that “governmental lawlessness had to be checked”. In the course of the judgment Justice Dhingra had expressed the opinion that not only the police but also “Courts are more available to the wealthy, powerful and resourceful persons. The rich and resourceful are often able to wriggle out of the legal net. The law enforcement agencies are more favorably inclined to the strong and powerful, to the detriment of weak and powerless”.

In times of divisive politics and social inter-group conflicts, it is the judiciary that people look up to for justice. Let the people not get the impression that judiciary has started losing the capacity to transcend existing political climate of opinion and ideological considerations. I have to add that POTA is part of this lawlessness of the government, whose very justice basis provides scope of abuse against political opponents, as has been realized by lits framers. What is not so commonly realized is the fact that POTA is part of ‘jurisprudence of suspicion’ and is supportive of the ideology of Hindu nationalism as the Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry has discussed terrorism within the country, primarily in terms of Islamic fundamentalism and radical leftist movements.

 

The judiciary therefore need to be more than ordinarily careful in deciding cases related to persons belonging to vulnerable minority religious groups, accused of charges of sedition and waging war against the nation on the basis of posters and pamphlets and other reading material, the like of which was stated by the police to have been seized when they raided the house of the two accused in Zakir Nagar, New Delhi.

 

Justice Dhingra’s judgment appears to be setting example contrary to his own preaching on the right of all sections to equal justice. Justice appears tilted in this case, tangibly and palpably, in favour of the political establishment and its subservient police and investigating agencies.

 

 

 

Dear Amresh Misra, Yogendra Yadav, Javed Anand and Ghulam Muhammed,

I consider it a bane of Indian public discourse that it has still not come out of the communal-secular paradigm of pre-1947 era, which distorts very formulation of most issues especially those related to Muslims as a religious community. What is needed is an all embracing human rights perspective, of which secularity of State and public institutions is a necessary part, which alone can ensure equal  rights to all individuals and groups. May I know, if Yogendra Yadav is aware of the reality of the communalization of not only the police but the majoritarian orientation of the justice system which has made delivery of secular justice uncertain, especially to Muslims? That is one major reason for the desperation of Muslim youth, which got first manifested in Mumbai 1993, by isolated individuals without any Muslim political and religious group’s support. If “Indian Mujahideen” has really come into existence, all of us need to give highest priority to vigorously pursuing the reform of the police & justice system for impartial law-enforcement for prevention and control of violent conflicts and prompt untainted delivery of justice, that one largely finds in the Western democracies including the U.S.A, where the white American who killed a Sikh in the wake of 9/11 mistaking him for an Afghan Muslim was sentenced to death within two years. Its being a hate crime was given due consideration by the trial court.

All votaries of secularism must keep in view that there cannot be any democratic governance without rule of law; and there can be no secular state without secular justice. However, traditional societies do not live by law alone. Ethno-religious issues causing Hindu-Muslim conflict over more than 150 years, which have been periodically exploited for political mobilization, cannot be left to be resolved by law alone. Rule of law is a necessary but not sufficient condition for managing diversity and ensuring equality in a country like India. It requires conciliation through institutionalized dialogue which needs establishing a statutory Community Relations Commission (CRC) for monitoring, prediction and management/ resolution of inter-religious/ethnic/linguistic conflicts over issues like cow, conversion, Ayodhya, Bande Mataram – which I recommended in the report that I wrote on behalf of the NCM Committee headed by Justice Tarkunde in 1999.

All those recommendations which we started formulating since 1994 in the CFD – CSSS Seminar in Mumbai jointly organized by me and Asghar Ali Engineer, were used by Teesta & Javed Anand in the workshop that we jointly organized in Delhi in 2004 under the Minorities Council, Citizens For Justice and Peace and Communalism Combat, which led to the framing of the Bill on ‘Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity’ and also specific suggestions on police reform and the proposal for the CRC. Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander & Colin Gonsalves also jointly brought out a good Draft Communal Crimes Bill 2004.

 

May I ask Javed Anand to remind Teesta as well as Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander and Colin Gonsalves and others working in this area to jointly meet to decide on modalities of a campaign for a minimum agenda for reform of police & justice delivery system and for constituting a statutory CRC/ National Peace Council?

 

Our civil society initiative supported by a good number of eminent citizens of all communities resulted in the formation of Inter-Community Peace Initiative in 2001 to promote both rule of law and dialogue, whose Conciliation Group brought out Position Papers on most contentious issues. There was fairly good measure of success on the issue of cow, about which my plea to Muslims to declare that they will not slaughter cow for food or ritual sacrifice, in deference to sentiments of sections of Hindus, gained increasing acceptability. However my efforts directed towards preventing Ayodhya II during 1999-2000 failed to yield any result, simply because in spite of reasonable stance of leading Muslim ulama, with whom I was in close touch, the pious looking, soft spoken Shankaracharya Jayanendra Saraswati of Puri turned out to be a spokesman of RSS-VHP.

 

During all this period I pointed out that traditional Hindus should not allow VHP-RSS to monopolise the Sanatan Dharma Hindu religio-cultural space, as the Hindutva ideology of nationhood – nation worship distorts Hindu religious traditions as well as its being anti-humanistic. Alas search for genuine representatives of non-Sangh Hindu Sanata Dharma, having standing in the community did not yield any result. Hence Ayodhya II, which led to Gujarat 2002, which is encouraging home grown terror.

Now I feel encouraged by Amresh Misra’s insights and perspectives. Shall we all along with other friends have a meeting in October 2008 to revive the ICPI, whose mission statements, aims and objects etc. were all adopted after thorough discussion among friends from right, left and center in January 2001 at Gandhi Peace Foundation.

 

II

 

While discussing legality of the ban on SIMI and political advisability of lifting the ban, besides my observations made in 2003, in the critique of Justice Dhingra’s judgment in Patel and Jaffary case the following may be kept in view:

 

1. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2006 like POTA has majoritarian orientation. Let us examine and amend it so that Shiv Sena and Hindutva formations, which are inherently xenophobic, exclusivist and violent and whose agenda of hate and revenge is responsible for periodic violence against Muslims (and now Christians) and many other regional-linguistic communities, are brought under its scanner. Let us recall the characterization of Mumbai riots (1992-93) by AM Rosenthal of the New York Times as essentially anti-Muslim pogrom, and his observation that Hindu hate literature against Indian Muslims is almost exactly the same in manufactured paranoia as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitler’s favourite.

 

There should be no place for such organizations in India which claims to be a secular liberal democracy with human rights commitment. Why do they survive and prosper? Rosenthal again gives the answer: Shiv Sena could have been put down in hours. The state and national governments behave like Weimar reborn – disorganized frightened, gutless.

 

2. SIMI as initially conceived and organized was not committed to using force or aggressive campaigning of its bigoted ideology of political Islam, though it must be acknowledged that SIMI’s majoritarian ideology of Islam did not wholly owe to the rise of Hindutva in 1980s, its radicalization and possible involvement of some of its members in providing some support to violent acts owes to the aggressive Hindutva campaign after Meenakshipuram (1981) , Ramjanambhoomi Movement (1984); opening of the gate of Babri Masjid (1986); Shilanyas (1990), Demolition & Riots (1992-93). Hence Guru Al Hindi’s characterization of Hindutva politicians as ‘evil’, the police as ‘wicked’ and ‘justice’ as ‘hellish’.

 

In my opinion it is the illegal ban and consequent indiscriminate persecution of innocent Muslims of all types and ages in the name of SIMI which has hardened sections of Muslim youth into doing their worst.

 

Lifting the ban is the only ethical, legal and secular political option. But all those Muslims who are committed to justice, peace and democracy should expose the dangers of aggressive tribalisation of Islam by SIMI. In the post-ban period, along with strengthening institutions of rule of law, letting SIMI get normalized and possibly reformed and mainstreamed will have greater success than continuing the State’s repression.

 

Most important aspect is the socio-political psychology of minorities, especially Muslims. For the Muslim community SIMI has had a marginal existence, even a source of threat to its fair treatment in the country. But singling out SIMI for ban and repression of many innocent Muslims in the name of SIMI, has led to the process of increasing owning of SIMI by the community.

 

It is this situation-specific owning that Javed Anand (whose sense of belonging to the Muslim community as well as to justice and peace, in my opinion, is genuine) took as a sign of Muslim solidarity with SIMI; hence his effort to warn us of the danger, which Yogendra Yadav welcomed for the health of secular politics. I agree with Yogendra Yadav that Muslims should frankly discuss in public the failings and negative trends  within the Muslim community, including their anti-humanistic interpretation of Islam – which I have been doing – but it is true that most Muslim intellectuals feel that to establish their secular credentials, they must not voice genuine grievances and demands of Muslims.

 

The treatment of Muslims by the media, especially electronic has not been fair in the current phase of assumption of Muslim guilt unless proven innocent. Hence the ‘Indian Munjahideen’s’ curse against them. But except for a few newspapers and channels it might have been more for commercial reasons of media competitiveness than any communal bias, as has happened in Aarushi case. In any case the way some channels have presented mere suspects in bomb blast cases as proven anti-national criminals requires the Supreme Court and the Press Council to lay down stricter guidelines. My NCM Report (1999) included recommendations for empowering proposed CRC to advise, warn and initiate legal proceedings against erring sections of media, especially when potential for mischief far outweigh considerations of earliest /instant information to the public.

 

The lawlessness of the lawyers and Bar Associations, denying the suspect/ accused right to fair trial which requires competent counsel of his choice, is no less reprehensible than police lawlessness. It is well that the PUCL has sent a letter on April 15 2008 to the Bar Association of India reminding it the right of accused to a competent counsel of his choice and fair trial.

 

It is time that secular intellectuals paid attention to the near absence/marginal presence of Muslims in effective positions in most national institutions, especially of governance – all wings and branches of the police and the judiciary – and in various Commissions and the media, which is largely responsible for their distorted anti-secular functioning by neglect or design. It will require implementing the human rights norms on socially diverse composition of all institutions. Unfortunately India takes legitimate pride in its cultural diversity, but its record of social exclusion is appalling, the crucial reason of which lie  in raising the false alarm of ‘secularism in danger’ to deny sectional demands of Muslims, as communal. Hence the need for paradigm shift from secular-communal to concerns related to Human Rights, Justice, Peace & Inclusiveness which require the secularity of the State to uphold rule of law, and ensure substantive equality to vulnerable, and disadvantaged minorities especially Muslims, which necessitates affirmative measures for their adequate presence in effective positions.

 

III

 

Irrespective of genuineness of its authorship, I would like to draw the attention of friends to the following observations made in the email signed by Guru-Al-Hindi and Al Arbi on behalf of ‘Indian Mujahideen’, after Jaipur and Ahmedabad blasts.

 

“Think of the fraud perpetrated on us in the name of Nanavati Commission. Remember the blasphemy of the Government in the name of judiciary and fast-track courts”

“The terms Democracy, secularism, equality, integrity, peace, freedom, voting, elections are yet another fraud with us”

 

“You try to fool us in the name of fast-track courts made for ’93 riot cases, through which you wish to free the actual Hindu culprits like Madhukar Sarpotdar who was caught red-handed with illegal firearms while the innocent Muslims arrested in the bomb blast case are being tried in the courts for years and years. Is this the hellish justice you speak of?”

 

“You agitated our sentiments and disturbed us by arresting, imprisoning, and torturing our brothers in the name of SIMI and the other outfits in Indore, Ujjain, Mumbai and in other cities of Karnataka.”

 

In the second email the state of policing and justice system is more pithily described in the following words:

 

“In our last email (ID: guru-alhindi@yahoo.fr password: newdelhi) we told you about Krishna Commission. In that commission it is very clear that the cops who brutally killed the Muslims and destroyed their properties have got promotions and are enjoying good government support, whereas the innocent Muslims who lost everything in riots are still waiting for justice.

 

In Gujarat also Narendra Modi who gave the orders to kill the Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 won two consecutive term of vidhaan sabha.

 

Now, we want to shift your attention towards Hyderabad, where recently the Muslim women peacefully protesting against the arrest of innocent Muslim youths, were kidnapped and were tortured brutally by Hyderabad cops.

Babu Bajrangi who killed the Muslim women in their pregnancy and kept their child on spear is moving freely in Gujarat.

 

Bal Thackeray is free Ijaz Pathan is dead, Tiger Memon still running away, and Shiv Sena continues to spread its Terror on the streets of Mumbai and Maharashtra. The modest Muslim who went for the revenge of the demolition of Babri Masjid were arrested and tortured on the charges of treachery, the rest who fled away from India are now being brought back from different countries of the world. This is only to make Muslims to realize their second class status in the country.”

 

The two letters are written in a language of a tribal leader who having been hurt to the core is overpowered by rage and starts raving and invoking the wrath of God, who he considers to be on his side. In this unsound state of mind he boasts of his omnipotence which will destroy the enemy and all those who he imagines are even remotely related to the enemy.

 

Let not our outrage over such a tribal leader of the dark ages make us totally ignore the genuineness of the cause of his rage lying in ‘wicked police’ and ‘hellish justice’ and ‘evil politicians’ especially, though not exclusively, of the Sangh Parivar/ Shiv Sena. While there is a need, especially for the Muslim community, to prevent the rise of such Muslim bigotry by all reformative educational means, the Hindu community should not always use the protective cover of ahimsa and ‘equal respect for all religions’ and liberals of secularism, while ignoring the basic requirements of justice to the vulnerable sections. It is unfortunate that no heed is being paid either by the civil society including the political class and the media or the state and central governments, to the sources of Muslim youth’s anger and desperation lying in persistent denial of justice as repeatedly stated in the email, though its linkage with acts of terrorism in Mumbai (1993) and in Coimbatore (1998) have been recorded by Justice Srikrishna and Justice Gokula Krishna, in their reports.

 

Riots and terror of retaliatory communal-jihadi variety are two sides of the same coin. It is unfortunate that the considered opinion of the fifth report of the Administrative Reforms Commission as well as pronouncements of the Supreme Court twice during the hearings of Gujarat carnage 2002 cases that communal violence poses more serious threat to the state and society than terrorism has not attracted enough public attention – which has made Prime Minister Manmohan Singh routinely declare during the last SAARC summit that terrorism is the greatest threat to the countries of the region, which makes him easily lay the entire blame at the others’ door. Why should ripping open a pregnant woman’s womb and smashing the foetus be considered a lesser threat to the nation and the State than killing of an infant by splinters of an exploded bomb operated by a terrorist not present to witness the scene, though both cause similar outrage to our conscience? Does gang raping of women and burning them alive and videotaping all the scenes not pose any threat to the State? Should the nation take it in its stride, only because it is labeled as ‘riot’? I am enclosing the copy of a Citizens’ Declaration on Protection of Innocent Persons During All Situations of Use of Force by all parties i.e. the State, the militant political groups and organized hate groups. I would like you to give your consent for signature and lend support by getting it signed by eminent citizens that you know.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

Iqbal A. Ansari

 

iqbalansari35@gmail.com

 

 

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce – By Amaresh Misra

August 23, 2008

The SIMI Question: The Underlying Farce 

 

                                                          By Amaresh Misra

 

 

          Shri Yogendra Yadav has responded to my article `The SIMI Question: Indian democracys acid test with a plea for a debate on the issue: what should be our stand on SIMI? I do welcome a debate on this issue and there is no doubt in my mind about Yogendra Yadavs integrity or his genuine concern for secularism.   

          However I would like to raise a counter question: is this question relevant at this juncture? In my previous article I made it clear that one can disagree vehemently with SIMIs ideologybut is disagreement enough for physical persecution of Muslims or even SIMI? Can one persecute for a crime under IPC sections someone who merely discusses, in private meetings, some abstract jihad, or says things like `secularism: NO; nationalism: NO? By that measure all Left parties can be taken to task for advocating at some point or the other overthrow of the Indian ruling classes or the Indian State.

          Application of constitutional law is not based on utterancesto persecute someone, first a charge has to be fixed. Like in the 1993 Mumbai I discovered a legal monstrosityapparently the Mumbai Police had booked several individuals who had the intention of taking revenge for the 1992-93 riots. But these individuals were not responsible even by the polices own charge-sheet of executing the bomb blasts on 12th March 1993. Legally, you cannot book someone for expressing the `intent, or `imagining a crime.

          Let me give an example: there were four or five different conspiracies to kill Mahatama Gandhi; but only Nathuram Ghodse committed the act of pulling the triggerwere all other individuals involved in other conspiracies booked for that one particular act of Nathuram Ghodse? Of course notbooking others for expressing the intent of doing what Ghodses did would be a legal joke.

          But the same legal joke was played on Muslims arrested for the 1993 blastsseveral were tortured; their lives were destroyed. Later, even the TADA court found `fantastic Mumbai Polices attempt to create several `chains that led to the blaststhe TADA court questioned that how could people involved in `other chains, who were unable to even execute their `designs were booked for a crime committed by a different `chain?

          Sorry to say thisbut Javed Anands comments and observations are plainly sillyand this is not a personal comment. It is a political commentin all examples given by Javed Anand there is not one, I repeat not one, instance where SIMI members are seen or heard by eye witnesses as planning specific bomb blasts or terror attacks. Eyewitnesses, merely record SIMI members as praising Bin Laden or vowing revenge for Gujaratbut since when has this become a crime in Indiawhere is the evidence that these utterances led to specific terror incidents?

          Javed Anand has failed to cite one instance of specific evidence for a specific act. One is really amazed at his naivety or deliberate attempt to mislead people when he writes that are the blasts after blasts, in city after city of India in recent years, part of the “jihad” espoused by SIMI? The investigating agencies obviously believe this to be the case. Why else would SIMI activists be routinely detained, arrested, interrogated, charge-sheeted and put on trial? Admittedly, they have yet to establish the terrorism charge against SIMI activists before any court of law in any of the blast cases.

          Note the lines I have underlinedhere Javed Anand is actually making a case that Indian agencies should be trusted Why else would SIMI activists be routinely detained, arrested, interrogated, charge-sheeted and put on trial? He writes

          Javed Anand would have retained some credibility had he at least distanced himself from security agencies. Even the Government of India is skeptical about the `secularism of its security forcesonly the RSS and the BJP and the Sangh Parivar hail security agenciesknown for persecuting, killing and torturing Muslims in particularas `heroes. So where, in which camp, does such a statement take Javed Anand?   

          Shri Yogendra Yadavs plea for a debate on SIMIs ideology shall have to wait for the right timeor it can be done in private gatheringsit cannot be made into a public issue by Indian patriots and secularists not because it will `weaken the fight against Muslim persecution. I am not in favor of such arguments. SIMIs ideology should not be made an issue simply because it is a non issue. A person is dying on the streetare we going to determine ideology before trying to save him or her?

          Another thing: the RSS would have been harmless if it had just spoken about Hindu Rashtra and the likebut since its inception, then in 1947 and then now, the RSS has worked to kill people systematically. The RSS stands in a league different from SIMI. Those disagreeing with SIMIs ideology must understand thisSIMI cannot be compared with Bajrang Dal.  Javed Anand writes that the first ban was slapped on SIMI in 2001, the chief ministers of Maharashtra, MP and Rajasthan made a strong case before the NDA for a simultaneous ban on SIMI and the Bajrang Dal. And rightly so…”

          SIMIs utterances are verbal and defensive in nature; Bajrang Dal has killed women and children and boasted about thiscan they be placed at par?

          Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru categorically said that while Hindu communalism is dangerous and on the offensive, Muslim communalism is defensive in nature. Here the father of Indian secularism is clearly stating that both cannot be placed at par.

          It is the issue of placing Bajrang Dal and SIMI on one platform that is disquieting. This is not only a legal travesty but a political travesty as well. The RSS since its inception as been opposed to the creation of a secular Indiathey are the number one force responsible for partition. New research, recently declassified British secret records and documents reveal that in 1947, the `communal riots of Delhi, in which tens of thousands of Muslims were massacred, was not a riot at allit was an armed uprising staged by the RSS to kill the new Indian nation-State in its infancy and proclaim a Hindu Rashtra. The Indian army with the active backing of Nehru was used to crush this revolt.

          Now see the pattern of recent actions against SIMI activists for the Ahmedabad Blasts and the so-called `cracking of the case by Gujarat Police and Narendra Modi: in March 2008, Safdar Nagori, the supposed `head of SIMI organization is arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Policenote that the BJP is in power in Madhya Pradesh. Nagori `confesses to the existence of armed camps in Gujarat. Amongst others, he `gives the names of Zahid Sheikh and Usman Agarbattiwala as SIMI associates to the MP Police.

          Now, according to a pro-Modi report written for rediff.com by some Sheela Bhatt, and corroborated by other reports in the Times of India and the Indian Express, after the July 2008 Bangalore and Ahmedabad blasts   “the Gujarat police’s databank of SIMI members in Ahmedabad had some names including that of Zahid Sheikh. They picked him up and started interrogating him extensively.

`He is a fanatic. He is not a Gujarati, he is not an Indian. He claims he is merely a soldier of Islam. These accused don’t belong to even their own families,’ said a source in the police.

`You will have to understand the identity of the perpetrators of the bomb blasts’. Their `transnational identity itself is an anti-national act’, says one of the interrogators”.

          Just note the pattern here—the Gujarat Police just picks up the databank they have on SIMI members and arrest Zahid Sheikh because his name was given by Safdar Nagori during his March interrogation! Just that! No other evidence! Sheikh is presumed guilty and `transnational’ only because he says `he says that he is a soldier of Islam’!

          Similarly, a Baroda officer of the Gujarat Police   got from the databank a file on SIMI activists living in Baroda. The blue file had a professionally prepared dossier on SIMI activists, and the opening page featured Usman Agarbattiwala complete with his photograph.

Asthana went through the accompanying details like Agarbattiwala’s telephone numbers, his work, background and the names of all his relatives that were in the dossier.

Immediately, details of Agarbattiwala’s telephone calls, both made and received, were procured. It took relentless work through day and night to make the chart of the most frequently made calls from his phone. They were then narrowed down and owners of those numbers were detected and, in turn, the printouts of those phone calls were procured. A professional hard work done with the help of computers in the police headquarters in Kothi area yielded fantastic results.

Asthana’s team created a cluster of cell phone movement among select persons. These movements were finally narrowed down to Agarbattiwala, Kayamuddin Kapadia, Imran Sheikh and Iqbal Sheikh. In no time Agarbattiwala, Imran and Iqbal were picked up. Along with others Joint Commissioner of Police Pravin Kumar Sinha and inspector Karimbhai Polra played an important role in Asthana’s team.

The first copy of the interrogation report was sent to the Ahmedabad team which was narrowing down on local SIMI activists including Zahid Sheikh. Agarbattiwala’s cracking proved very crucial. Bhatia and Chudasama cracked Zahid Sheikh as much as they could. In Baroda, Iqbal was a new entrant to SIMI ranks but some of the detainees were tough nuts to crack who had undergone special training to withstand police methods. On the basis of the early lead provided by the interrogations in Baroda and Ahmedabad, teams of Gujarat police travelled to Kerala, Mumbai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to collect a variety of documentary evidence.

By August 8-9, Modi knew his state police was just days away from success that has eluded the police in other Indian states wracked by terrorism”.

          This fawning, pro-Modi article, a farce in the name of journalism, lets the cat out of the bag. In every case, Police officers just had to check the SIMI databank or connect phonecalls and presto—they had their culprit! How much more ridiculous can you get? The fact remains that even Safdar Nagori’s confession to the MP police is suspect—Nagori was tortured and his appeal is lying before the courts. So how can the police arrest Zahid and Agarbattiwala?

          Then the Gujarat Police goes to UP—and picks up Abu Bashar—because he too is linked with SIMI! And now Abu Bashar is the mastermind!

          The kind of story the Gujarat Police has made up makes one’s head spin—the Maharashtra Police did the same thing after the 1993 blasts and several blasts hence. They have not been able to prove even one, repeat even one, of their stories in a court of law.

          Now while Muslims are being picked up in SIMI’s name, the lead shown by the email sent through Ken Haywood’s email is allowed to go cold—in fact the Gujarat Police says that SIMI activists hacked into Haywood’s system!    

          Who is this Haywood? The mail sent by `Indian Mujheedin’ claiming responsibility for the Ahmedabad blasts, came from his computer. The investigative agencies knew of this on 26th July—what was the need to give a clean chit to Haywood? Why was he allowed to flee India? Why was his passport not impounded?

Here is a profile of Haywood’s background and that of his Company, issued by an American website: “Campbell White is the name of the Company…Campbell White’s MD is pastor Dan Rubianes, the head of the Door Christian Centre…a church with origins in Arizona in the US but relatively new to India. Door Christian Centre is a part of the Pentecostal Christian Fellowship Ministries, also known as the Potter’s House. Haywood is a functionary of the Potter’s House in Mumbai”.

Moreover, the Indian Express found that the Mumbai office of the MNC is located in two small adjoining rented rooms on the ground floor of Sanpada railway station complex in Navi Mumbai. The two rooms also serve as prayer rooms on Sundays and Thursdays for the Potter’s House. A notice pasted on the wall says the community service has been cancelled until further notice and is signed by Haywood.

The Express continued, explaining that “physical and Internet-based checks on other past and present employees of Campbell White like Scott Grabowska, a former Mumbai-based international protocol trainer, David Curwen-Walker, a senior operations manager, and Jonathan Heimberg, a senior information services manager, both in Bangalore, have shown links to the church. For instance, Curwen-Walker and Heimberg head the Door churches at Kammanahalli and Koramangala in Bangalore.”

The American website asks: “this is all very good stuff, but if the Indian press had been doing its job it could have circulated this information on the day that Haywood was linked to the Ahmedabad bombs. Still, the American press has been even worse, with the only coverage of Haywood’s curious case being a short piece in the Kingman Daily Miner.

          I would ask Shri Yogendra Yadav—what is all this? Is it not becoming apparent that there is a dubious company with a dubious foreign-Christian-evangelist-American background somewhere linked to the terror attacks? Now in India things have come to this—that Indian Muslims will be persecuted on imaginary links with SIMI but foreign nationals will be let off! The Haywood angle at least ought to have been investigated.

          By saying that despite disagreeing with SIMI, the organization cannot be put at par with the RSS or the Bajrang Dal, I think I have made my position clear on a vital issue on which Mr. Yogendra Yadav wanted some discussion; but what about Haywood and the ridiculous manner in which Zahid Sheikh, or Agarbattiwala or Abu Bashar were picked up?

          It would be of great service to the nation if Shri Yogendra Yadav picks up his pen or his laptop, and conducts his own investigations to write a detailed story of the ongoing `SIMI being terrorist’ farce in any one of India’s national newspapers or magazines. 

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

August 21, 2008

The SIMI question: Indian democracy’s acid test

 

                                                              

By Amaresh Misra

 

 

          The lifting of the ban on SIMI by the Special Tribunal constituted under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2006, headed presently by Justice Geeta Mittal, needs to be welcomed by all secular Indians.

 

The persecution meted out to SIMI cadres during the past 15 years is nothing short of a legal scandal; the recent Tehelka story on the subject paints a frightening story of deliberate negligence, blatant disregard of the rule of law, violation of constitutional and civil rights of Indian citizens and cynicism towards the secular ideology of the Indian nation-state, by functionaries of Indian State agencies themselves. In the name of combating SIMI, ordinary Muslims were demonized, picked up from their homes in broad daylight, given third and fourth degree tortures and made to `confess’ to `crimes’ that were never proven. It is therefore painful to see so called secularists like Javed Anand taking—at this juncture, when some legal relief to beleaguered Muslims of India seems to be in sight, and when it is becoming apparent that the bomb blast phenomenon in India is a handiwork of communal elements in State services and the RSS-Sangh Parivar—the Urdu media and Muslim organizations to task for welcoming a plainly legal judgment!

 

          The Supreme Court since then has stayed the lifting of the ban—and this seems to give comfort to Mr. Javed Anand! Mr. Anand has failed totally in distinguishing between support for SIMI’s ideology and opposing persecution of Muslims in SIMI’s name. One can remain deadly opposed to SIMI’s ideology—but if a secularist or a leftist fails to welcome the lifting of the ban on SIMI then he or she is either willfully ignorant or willfully supportive of the Indian brand of fascism.

 

          Several quotes form Lenin and Mao can be presented to prove the point that leftists have to stand up for persecuted religious minorities irrespective of the ideologies of their representative or fringe organizations. But in India of late some pseudo or fake version of secularism has gained currency. Mr. Anand raises the question of going beyond the `law’ and seeing the SIMI threat on the `ideological’ plane; Mr. Yogendra Yadav in his reply to Mr. Ghulam Muhammad’s very reasonable riposte to Mr. Javed Anand goes one step further to say that there is `truth’ beyond `law’!

 

          Come on, people—are we discussing philosophy, the nature of truth etc. here? What kind of ridiculous levels are we descending to? Mr. Javed Anand and Mr. Yogendra Yadav ought to answer two questions: whether the ban on SIMI was justified on legal grounds? Just a simple Yes or No—and whether the lifting of the ban is as per the spirit of the Indian constitution—again a simple Yes or No; there are no other issues involved—the Urdu media has been at the forefront of fighting all anti-national conspiracies; it is more patriotic than the Indian English media for sure. There are several stories which the Urdu media highlighted and which the English media picked up later—the Urdu media began the whole debate around the non-implementation of the Sri Krishna committee in 2007-2008; the English media picked up the theme later.

 

          When the Urdu media welcomes the lifting the ban on SIMI, it is acting not as a `Muslim media’ but as a responsible `Indian media’ conscious about the constitutional rights of all Indian citizens. The Urdu media was vocal about Muslim persecution in India not because Urdu is spoken and read largely by Muslims, but because they realized the unconstitutional nature of that persecution. The Urdu media in the 1990s has also been very vocal on atrocities on Dalits and the OBCs. It has carried long campaigns against several ills within the Muslim society, including the spread of ideas which even faintly suggest terrorism of any kind. Its nationalist and secular credentials are beyond doubt. The Government of India has had to consistently support the Urdu media and shield it from vicious attacks from communal forces because of this very reason.

 

          There was an attempt by communal elements in the Maharashtra State administration to book a journalist called Danish Riyaz in July 11 2006 Mumbai blasts; Danish was used to put pressure on the Urdu Times, which had spoken out consistently against minority persecution in general; one can cite several such instances.

 

          It is people, like Javed Anand who need to be a taught a lesson in secularism. They represent a section which makes fun of Muslim religious beliefs in the name of secularism—they shed crocodile tears over Muslim persecution without once daring to confront the RSS head on—have Javed Anand or Javed Akhtar or Yogendra Yadav been able to stand up against the RSS on any public platform? The RSS loves them for they represent some caricature of secularism, which can easily be used to paint secularism as against religion and Muslim appeasement.

 

          Defending the constitutional rights of Muslims is a political question—today in India, the ideology of SIMI etc is a non issue. The real issue is whether we will allow the RSS-Sangh Parivar and other fascist forces to derail the idea of India as a secular republic.

 

Mr. Javed Anand therefore stands guilty of creating an issue where there is none and therefore helping the RSS indirectly. Anti-religiosity has never been the hallmark of Indian secularism—in fact in the Indian context anti-religious secularism has always ended up as being friends of fascism which too is anti-religious; in fact, the pseudo-westernized culture of the Indian secular elite has been responsible to a great degree for the rise of the RSS; what India needs is indigenous secularism, of the Ganga-Yamuni Tehzeeb variety.

 

Recently, when the Shankarcharya of Puri attacked Narendra Modi for dividing Hindus and Muslims and for planting bombs in Gujarat to defame and persecute Muslims, Mr. Javed Anand or Mr. Yogendra Yadav did not come forward to welcome the statement. Here was a golden opportunity to harness the liberal tradition within the mainstream, the anti-RSS majority Sanatan Dharma Hindu element, to the cause of secularism. But people like Mr. Javed Anand and Mr. Yogendra Yadav of course, have no conviction in the power of the Shankaracharyas to fight the RSS. They do not realize that India has remained secular for so long, that in a Hindu majority country like India, Hindutva fascists have failed to secure more than 20% votes ever, because of the pro-Muslim nature of Sanatan Dharma, which had allied with Islam during the Mughal era and in 1857.

 

          Papers like Indian Express stand guilty of going against their own traditions of fearless journalism. I have contributed a lot to Indian Express’ edit page, mostly on themes like 1857. But any article against Muslim persecution has been shot down. I am saying this openly and blaming the Indian Express edit page editor Saubhik Chakravarty and Shekhar Gupta for their subtle and not so subtle anti-Muslim biases. Somewhere down the line, every pseudo-westernized Hindu holds an unexplained grudge against Muslims. This translates into biases in the media. I am a member of the Governing Council of the ICSSR. And if I can be published on several issues and rejected on issues of Muslim persecution, then you can imagine the treatment a Muslim journalist gets in the Indian Express.

 

          So it is true that the Indian `secular’ English media suffers from a pro-Hindutva bias. Even a rookie journalist will tell you that. A legal case has to be brought out against the Indian Express and the Times of India. India needs tough anti-defamation and anti-discrimination laws, where people would have the right to sue the Indian Express and the Times of India.        

 

One has to understand that in India secularism has been protected by the `illiterate’, non-westernized peasants and the common sense of the ordinary Indian. Indian/Hindu modernism and modernists have surrendered before fascism; on the contrary Indian/Hindu tradition and traditionalists have fought against the RSS. This dialectics needs to be understood—the soul of India needs to be understood in the fight against fascism. For fascists are pseudo-modernists of a different variety. And they fear not modernism but the everyday religious-traditional-political consciousness of the Hindu and Muslim Indian peasant.   

 

         Right now also it is not some so called secularist but a traditional politician like Digvijay Singh, the ex-CM of MP, who in an interview given to Tehelka, has openly spoken about the BJP-VH-RSS making bombs in India—Mr. Singh has said also that he has direct evidence in this matter. But of course, why would Mr. Javed Anand or Mr. Yogendra Yadav write on this, or welcome Mr. Singh’s statement or demand an enquiry into the role of RSS in the bomb blasts that have been rocking India? And why would the Indian Express publish any such thing?